Juan Mata has admitted that Paul Pogba will be a "big miss" for Manchester United ahead of Sunday's clash with Manchester City, but insisted that another player will "try his best" to step up in his absence.
We will look to win it for him
Despite a strong first season back at Old Trafford since his then world-record return Pogba has come on leaps and bounds in his second campaign, with the 24-year-old becoming crucial to José Mourinho's side after a blistering start to the campaign.
He was sorely missed after suffering from injury back in September but his return in the past few weeks have seen just how important he is, the Frenchman was crucial in the 4-2 and 3-1 victories over Watford and Arsenal respectively but disaster struck as he received a red card for a foul on Héctor Bellerín.
Pogba played in the 2-1 midweek victory over CSKA Moscow but a three-game ban will see him missing from Sunday's visit of Pep Guardiola's men, and Mata stated though he will be sorely missed he is sure someone will step up in his place.
"Yeah, big miss," Mata said after Tuesday's victory. "He's a fantastic player."
"He did a fantastic assist [on Tuesday night]," the Spaniard stated. "He's a very complete midfielder, he can do all things."
"He will be a big miss but another player will play and try his best," Mata proclaimed. "I think we have a good squad and have good players to replace any other player. Hopefully we can win for him."
Doing what we have to do
Tuesday's victory secured United's inevitable passage into the last-16 of the Champions League, but all eyes will now be focused on Sunday's visit of Guardiola and scintillating City side.
Eight points currently separate the two sides at the top of the Premier League with City yet to taste defeat in the English top-flight, but United will be boosted as City's 27-game unbeaten run came to an end on Wednesday with Shakhtar Donetsk defeating them 2-1 to secure their own passage into the European knockout stages.
Despite that it is expected that City wil come to the Theatre of Dreams all guns blazing, and Mata has insisted that they need to keep the "pace" that they have had in the last few matches to defeat City and to be in a "position" for the title come May.
"We are doing what we have to do," he said looking forward to Sunday's clash. "We would love to be first in the table right now but I think we are doing lots of good things."
"Now, especially on Sunday and during Christmas time," the 29-year-old stated. "Which we all know how difficult it is to win every single game."
"We need to keep that pace if we want to be in a position to challenge for the title at the end of the season," Mata concluded. "Hopefully we can do it."